Rachel Wood does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
However its application has caused extreme confusion and misunderstanding of the archaeological record.
Knowing the limitations of this dating method can help avoid colossal archaeological misinterpretations that would otherwise distort history.
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They have their work cut out for them, however, because radiocarbon (C-14) dating is one of the most reliable of all the radiometric dating methods.
This article will answer several of the most common creationist attacks on carbon-14 dating, using the question-answer format that has proved so useful to lecturers and debaters. Answer: Cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere are constantly converting the isotope nitrogen-14 (N-14) into carbon-14 (C-14 or radiocarbon).
Radiocarbon or C14 dating employs complex systems of measuring the unstable isotopes in once living matter.
There are three forms of carbon that naturally occur forming the building blocks of all plant and animal life.
The stable C12 and C13, and the unstable or radioactive Carbon 14. Only one C14 atom exists for every one trillion C12 atoms.
Nitrogen atoms in the upper atmosphere are struck by cosmic radiation and create C14 atoms.
ICR creationists claim that this discredits C-14 dating. Answer: It does discredit the C-14 dating of freshwater mussels, but that's about all.